O come, o come Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
Who mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel…
Sometimes I find myself disheartened by a world where hearts are filled with fear instead of mercy, pride instead of sincere openness, a thirst to prove instead of a thirst for righteousness.
This is what Advent is for: to bring scared, proud, thirsting hearts to Him whom we await; to approach the Throne of Mercy, and let the simple truth that each of us is “known and loved and […] awaited” (Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi, paragraph 3) sink deep into every crack in our heart.
Advent is a season for quiet. Not that it is quiet, but because we need the quiet. Amid the lights and music, busy search to buy gifts, make gifts, and wrap them in prettiest paper, we need to find a still place to unlock our deepest depths so that our prayer isn’t a hollow one but a changing one. Our cry to rejoice isn’t the fruit of things going well (although praises if they are), but a proclamation that declares He is coming. He is coming, and the Lord loves to be among us, especially in our poverty.
Perhaps this is the harshest reality of the season: although we surround ourselves with busy activities and gleaming lights, beautiful songs and perfect gifts, we are still poor. We still lack. We still have a longing that aches to be filled. As we buzz about, preparing external things for others, we are reminded that we must also prepare internal things for the King of Kings. The best way to do this is not to root out our poverty, because it is in our poverty that we are able to receive. May we sit still in it awhile, know it’s there, see its depths, and rejoice that it is here, in this poor place, that Jesus will come.
May the plea to Rejoice, for He is coming resound in our hearts, not because it makes a pretty song, but because it is true. May this be a season when we sink into our deepest places—our deepest desires, deepest joys, deepest worries—not the ones on the surface but those that are central to our spirit. Let us sink in and wade around, and from those places, let us take up the cry Rejoice, rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.